The Making of A Mac OSX Netbook… well sorta anyways

So I recently purchased a iBook G4 14 inch from my brother Jack.

Anyways it is a great little machine and it was cheap. I paid $100 Bucks for it. Now the best part about it was that it had very little use on it and therefore the battery was a little over 4 hours.

I have been reading a whole bunch of stuff about these netbooks and even read the hack of someone getting a netbook running Mac OSX. Well at one point I had bought an EEE pc and it really just wasn’t for me. It had some great features but overall there were just too many compromises for me. Keyboard too small, display too low of a resolution, not enough of the apps I wanted or was used to. You get the idea. Now then on to my evil plan. What makes a netbook cool? Well the small size but then again I wanted the larger display so no problem there. The light weight, ok I can work on that, the solid state drives for durability, check and well that and the low cost but still good functionality.

Step 1. Bought an iBook for $100
Step 2. But some SSD drives of Newegg. $200 for 2x 8 GB Transcend SLC IDE drives.
Step 3. Buy an MCE Tech Optibay originally for Powerbook G4 15. ( being a mac tech i knew this drive should fit and I was right… go fig ) $100
Step 4. Put it all together in some weird attempt to make this work

Here goes…

IMG_0076.JPG

This was one of the two drives that I ordered and I had to format it first because any good tech will tell you it is important to test the drives before you reassemble the computer just in case you don’t feel like wasting several hours retaking the thing apart.

IMG_0077.JPG

Now in case you were wondering an iBook G4 is not the easiest of laptops to take apart. I used to work for Apple so thats where I learned to do it. There are take apart guides online if you feel ambitious.

IMG_0083.JPG

The Optibay is kinda a cool little thing. It does way significantly lighter then the original combo drive that was in there. Even with the second SSD drive installed.

IMG_0085.JPG

This next part was the only really tricky part to this project. The Mounting bracket for the iBook relies on the front bezel of optical drive which is a customer modeled piece. I had to break two tabs to get it to fit snug and it’s only attached with one screw. But the entire iBook is a snap one piece on top another so I wasn’t too worried about things flapping around in there.

IMG_0086.JPG

And here is the complete inside install. Yeah it is kinda geeky cool. Note that the optical drive uses and IDE connection. If you were thinking of doing this with the new MacBook Alums that just came out it uses a SATA connection. So we will have to wait for MCE to come out with a new optibay which I’m sure there are already hard at work on… I hope.

IMG_0087.JPG

Then I had to simply use an external optical drive to get Leopard loaded on there and RAID the two drives together.

IMG_0088.JPG

Some interesting specs for those who are into that sort of thing. The boot time was reduced from 1 minute 46 seconds to about 38 seconds total. Sequential read and write times were faster but not dramatically. However I did run xBench and compared it to my buddies 15 MacBook Pro and his random read writes were about 1 MB a sec, and this thing smoked that at 28 MB a sec. And since the whole swap file is being paged in and out it is a significantly faster machine over all. Applications launch almost instantly and for some weird reason it also shuts down almost instantly as well. It will take some getting used to in terms of not feeling the drive spin or make noise but hey, wave of the future and all that. Also I get about over 5 hours of battery life now.

And here is a random pic of a stuffed animal with a knife through its head for no good reason. Enjoy and happy scrapping

IMG_0095.JPG

4 thoughts on “The Making of A Mac OSX Netbook… well sorta anyways”

  1. i figured there must have been a way to do this. being a bit of techy do you know if you could use the optibay inside a 12″ G4 ibook? look forward to hearing back from you! cheers!

Comments are closed.